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Discussion Details

Online discussion - Creativity and culture for social cohesion

On Wednesday, 7 December, from 10 am to 4 pm CET, EPALE will host an online discussion on creativity and culture for social cohesion.

The written discussion will be introduced by a live stream (10:00 to 10:40 am CET) with Rasha Shaaban (Gothenburg National Museums of World Culture), Helen O’Donoghue (Irish Museum of Modern Art) and Niels Righolt (Danish Centre for Arts & Interculture), who will share their perspectives, experiences and recommendations.

Watch the streaming here:

The live stream will be followed by a moderated written discussion, hosting the contributions of our EPALE community members.

During this online discussion, we will try to imagine together a future where arts and culture play a key role in solving global challenges (such as climate change, gender inequality, and corruption), unfolding the many interconnections between education, creativity and culture, touching upon the following questions:

  • In a moment where our democratic values are under threat, how can cultural practices foster inclusion and intercultural understanding, and bring together members of our European family house?

  • What’s the role of cultural practices and cultural institutions in promoting civic engagement and democratic participation?

  • What is the role of multidisciplinary cultural spaces in reimagining new ways of educating and learning?

  • How can we effectively shape inclusive and human-centred societies through lifelong learning? 

You are warmly invited to share your experience and initiatives.

Comments are already open, so you can start sharing your thoughts, resources and suggestions.


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Thank you very much for the interesting discussion! Creativity, culture and art should be seen as a powerful way to deal with various themes and to be strong part of education. At the KSL Study Center in Finland, we have thought a lot about the possibilities of creativity and culture in relation to activism and civic activity. This year we also published a publication in English about craft activism in Finland, where the activists themselves reflect on their own relationship with activism, craft and art. The publication can be viewed here and is available for free download or delivery abroad until the end of this year.

In my opinion, the publication also opens up well how, through crafts and creativity, people feel they can influence global challenges and participate in the discussion.

Riina Näsi Culture producer, Art educator

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HI Riina,

thank you for sharing this information, I am excited to read the publication as it resonates with a recent showing of the IMMA Collection under the title 'Social Fabric',

that exhibition featured some textile work that is often undervalued in the arts world.

and featured the work that socially engaged Irish artist Wendy Cowan made with women in  Dublin in the late 1980s. you might be interested in following her . She now works in Australia and is completing a PHd which is reflecting on her practice/ story telling/ textiles....

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Is lifelong learning belonging to our culture? Are we possessing learning as our cultural value? Do we convey the message of lifelong learning to our younger generations in families, schools, and local communities? I come from a green and creative country – Latvia. We have a strong tradition of folk dances, choir singing, and cultural heritage preservation across generations and years. Lifelong learning is becoming more and more popular in my country and across EU. Why? Because we need new 21st skills linked with digitization and globalization. We learn these skills by doing. Creativity and cultural diversity is also promoted across lifelong learning. I do believe that lifelong learning should be part of our culture now-a-days.

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Thank you for interesting topic for discussion. Fully agree with speakers about the power of cultural institutions in challenging thinking, educating, reminding about the values, raising awareness about important issues.
It is wonderful to hear about examples of museums which are actively trying to be relevant, reach out to the community, and are actively attract students.

As a mum of small children I really enjoy when cultural institutions, libraries and museums make sure they are family-friendly. This ensures both, developmental opportunities for children and also opportunity for parents to visit this place. E.g., National Museum of Arts of Latvia has a "bag for children" with various interesting tasks for children that makes sure they are busy during the visit, e.g., searching certain character in paintings.

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Culture is one of the brightest manifestations of human civilization.

I believe that culture is becoming extremely important for the inclusion of individual communities within the national culture and existing cultural diversity to an extent that makes sense of the results of smart growth pursued by the European Union through investment in education, creativity and innovation.

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Not only adult educators play a key role in fostering creativity. For example, in our country, it is NGOs that play a major role in promoting the creativity of adults by organizing art, etc. events for different target groups. The operation of several social enterprises also includes activities that promote creativity.

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Hi Anna, 

For sure. I agree with you that adult educators in the informal sector play a very important role in promoting creativity. They complement the work of teachers at schools and universities. 

Taking part in youth exchanges and cultural activities were very important for my personal and professional growth. 

Being exposed to other cultures through intercultural dialogue programmes and Erasmus+ programmes have been extremely invaliable for me. 

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I agree with you both, people often encounter art through a familiar activity or organisation.  It is the power of peer to peer influence that has created many new participants on our museum's programmes as the trusted peer will often be the person to suggest a new experience. This was the subject for research in a very early EU learning programme that I was involved in and I have written about it in one of my Blogs (#2) on this platform. 

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Adult educators are like interdisciplinary actors! Erasmus is a great opportunity to offer adult learners and educators opportunity to learn not only new horizons but also cultural diversity. I am working with KA1 adult educator, staff and learner mobilities. Always we receive feedback from international participants that learning mobility widened their understanding of life and culture. 

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Cultural institutions have a high potential to reach people. If educational institutions appeal with logic, with the help of reason, cultural institutions appeal through emotions. This allows better access to at-risk adults. Cultural institutions also have the advantage of being physically closer to people. In Latvia, every village has a cultural center, but not every village has an educational institution. Cultural centers involve adults in choir singing, which is very popular in Latvia, in dance groups and amateur theater performances. It is an opportunity for people to express their activity, creativity, self-realization, which is the basis of a civic attitude. Cultural centers organize meetings with writers, actors, public workers, which broadens the horizons of community members and creates impulses for local activities. The best results are achieved when cultural institutions cooperate with educational institutions. Such cooperation networks are formed by active adult education coordinators in Latvian municipalities.

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Thanks Ingrida for this comment. We shared your comment during our discussions. 

Indeed cultural institutions appeal through emotions which makes their message very powerful. Do you remember that feeling when you came out of an exhibition once and you said to yourself "I am not the same person after I've seen this exhibition!" That is the intangible power of arts and creativity. 

At the same time, we need to be careful when we attend cultural activities because it can be abused by people who support undemocractic values to brainwash through the strong emotional messages they send against a certain group of our community. 

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It would be interesting to learn from colleagues about the research results - how often do we attend exhibitions,museums especially together with families.Because of that the visits of students from schools are of great importance especially if the teacher organizes discussions after attending of museums.It is of great importance to develop this interest to culture already in childhood and then later it will grow and develop more. It is too late to speak about the development of emotions in adult learning , of course we do it - we deepen   and widen these emotions and attitude towards culture.

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Culture and arts are the most important ways that meaning is made and taken on. In the digital world, we live in now, arts can offer new ways of looking at things beyond specific solutions. Through the variety of intellectual and emotional experiences they offer, arts can teach people about complexity while also adding to the positive experience of being different. In this way, arts are an important way to deal with the cultural, social, economic, and religious tensions that exist inside and outside of Europe.

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Liga and Rasha

I also support this and the current Programme of work (SPICE) that Adam Stoneman is carrying out at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, is critically engaging with the digital on many levels with many different groups for whom access to the actual building is challenging. -his contact details are 

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Creativity involves different ways of thinking, breaking the established pattern of valuing and creating. Divergent thinking is particularly important as it can generate ideas that are innovative. In order to think outside the model, one needs the freedom to become aware of the existing frameworks and boundaries of the model in order to be able to step outside them. People are much more creative if there is a chance that our ideas will be implemented, albeit at a later stage, thus seeing that our ideas can be useful. This sense of usefulness can be enhanced by clarifying goals: what we consider useful and what we want to achieve.

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Greetings! It seems to me that the main prerequisite for creativity is activity. A person must be active and interested so that we can talk about creativity. Physically active, socially active. How to get creativity - not to settle for what has been achieved, to want to develop yourself both professionally and personally.
It is possible that passivity is an even better soil for creativity, but practical experience shows that the more active you are, the more intensively you engage and act, creativity seems to come alive. Creative people are always active, we see them, talk about them and admire them. The only thing that matters is how to present creativity in the labor market, to the employer? Is creativity today valued as a separate skill and how is it measured?

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in addition to the valuable points that you have all raised- we also need to think of creativity and brain health... research is taking place across the globe by a collaboration of scientists, medics, and artists and there is growing proof of the capacity for the regrowth of brain cells and one of the important factors is participation in creative activities. My Blog # 2 addresses this. The international Global Brain Health Institute is worth looking at.

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I agree with Helen that it is really important to participate in creative activities , but not always adults  especially senior citizens know how to do it,it would suggest to say involvement in creative activities.

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One of the most important aspects of our century is social cohesion.Social cohesion is a challenge of the century we are going through. In the post-corona era, the role of the family and school is called to be redefined. But are we, the teachers, ready to face this challenge?

Civic engagement and democratic participation starts from home and school. If we as parents and teachers do not cooperate, we cannot be role models for our students. Schools which thrive and develop practise -  on an everyday basis - understanding, social inclusion and acceptance of the "different other", cooperation, respect, teamwork and solidarity. In other words quality education, can be practised only in a workplace where self reflection and development is a priority. 

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Hi Mary, this is so important and teachers need to be empowered to encourage children and older students to embrace the changes in culture that they are encountering. I would advocate that teachers avail of the professional development courses and possibilities that Museums and other arts organisations offer as a means to reflect with peers and develop innovative ways to do this valuable work. I have come across a number of programmes that explore 'developing empathy' in our schools and one such programme

was being carried out in the Museum of Modern Art in NYC when I was there in 2020.

Also Professor Pat Nolan of NUIG in Ireland has developed a very good programme.…


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Even though everyone understands the importance of creativity in creating new ideas and solving complex problems, many adults feel barriers to engaging in creative activities. The audience can feel embarrassed and unwilling to open to new ideas/perspectives. We often hear comments that creative activities are more suitable for children. One of the obstacles is the disbelief that I can succeed. Educators can help adults make sure that everyone can develop creativity. Adult education has great potential for developing creativity through the appropriate hands-on and experiential teaching methods. 

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I've encountered similar attitudes when choosing training methods for a group of adult learners. I believe that explaining the goal of the method and how it can facilitate creative exchange could be helpful in such cases.

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Creativity should be taught in school. In adulthood, there are indeed barriers to engaging in creative activities. There is a belief that the formal education system kills creativity in children, the difference is a certain inconvenience and requires a lot of effort from teachers.

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often Adults need to 'unlearn before new learning can begin'

resistance to new experiences and situations can be as a result of a life time of learning how to survive (which in itself is a very creative act). As professional working in these fields we need to be sensitive about what we mean when we talk about 'creativity' and how, where and when we apply it.

What do we mean by 'creative activities'? and why do we  assume that they have to to be 'hands -on'- 

creative thinking, talking and listening -co constructive methodologies for 'creating a shared dialogue' have been developed in  museums and galleries over the past forty years and are great resources to use when introducing adults into a 'creative space', be it a gallery, studio or class room workshop. 

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At any age, creative thinking is priceless. For example, our imagination can help us to understand complex ideas. Using imagination and creativity leads to innovations, understanding, and development of theories in any profession. We can use various creative-artistic activities in adult education, for example, “Turn Your World Upside-Down”.

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Scientific literature says that creativity is a personality trait characterized by openness to new life experiences, independence, flexibility, dynamism, originality, personality uniqueness, courage, etc. A creative person is characterized by creative intuition, rich fantasy, divergent thinking, inspiration, etc. It has diversity of thinking, highly developed imagination, aesthetic perception of the world; etc. The actual question is how to promote it in adult education?


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I have been cooperating with UNINTER University in Curitiba, Brazil, for several years. This collaboration has allowed me to verify the influence of ancient cultural traditions on science, for example, professor in Ethnoastronomy Germano Afonso's view of astronomy from indigenous groups' knowledge of the sky. He mapped more than 100 Tupí-Guaraní native constellations. These constellations allowed this indigenous group to interpret specific periods: hunting, planting, harvesting, and fishing. It was interesting to learn from the professor that can be distinguished four constellations: the Old Man (Summer), the Deer (Autumn), the North Tapir and the Hummingbird (Spring), and Ema (Winter). In my opinion, many things we can learn about the world and ourselves through the perspectives of different cultures. For example, mythology/cosmology is used to learn about the culture and present values and pass on knowledge to future generations.

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Līdz šim organizējot pieaugušo neformālās izglītības aktivitātes veiksmīgā sadarbība ir izveidojusies ar bibliotēkām, kas ir lieliska vietu, kur pulcējas iedzīvotāji, ne tikai, lai lasītu grāmatas, bet arī apmeklētu kultūras pasākumus.

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Zespół of 2020 r. pracuje nad wsparciem budowania potencjału organizacji sektora kultury/sztuki/dziedzictwa do generowania 'korzyści społecznych' poprzez ich działania.

Wierzymy (i sprawdziliśmy w praktyce), że świadome, uważne planowanie, projektowanie i realizowanie procesów edukacyjnych - z wykorzystaniem działań artystycznych/kulturalnych/kreatywnych - może prowadzić do:
- wzmacniania włączenia społecznego
- wzmacniania spójności społecznej
- wzmacniania aktywności obywatelskiej.

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  • Uzyska informacje ważne dla planowania przyszłych działań...

BOOST Benchmark Tool jest podzielone na trzy obszary tematyczne: 1. Program i Działania Organizacji; 2. Struktura Organizacji, 3. Sieciowanie i Współpraca. W ramach tych trzech obszarów, Ty (i inne osoby działające na rzecz tej samej organizacji) mogą dokonać samooceny Waszych działań i ich wpływu na obszary: włączenia społecznego, spójności społecznej, aktywności demokratycznej. Wraz z wynikiem otrzymasz kilka wskazówek, jak zwiększać potencjał włączający organizacji.

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Zapraszamy do korzystania!

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I am interested in the topic of this discussion and cant wait. In the context of the European Year of Youth, and we should support and encourage young people to become active citizens and actors of positive change.

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